Defense outlines strategy in Kirkpatrick trialFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A hitman who acted on his own...That’s what the defense team tells the jury is the case in the Phillip Gattuso murder.
A hitman who acted on his own...That’s what the defense team tells the jury is the case in the Phillip Gattuso murder. Gene Kirkpatrick is accused if hiring Michael Nakvinda to kill Gattuso, his son in law, a Fargo dentist. Opening statements began in his trial today.
The jury was seated and the tone was set for the scheduled two week trial. Prosecutors started by painting a picture of a grieving man who lost his daughter Valerie Gattuso to a botched surgery, she was married to the murder victim. Authorities say Kirkpatrick wanted custody of the couple's daughter; his granddaughter. Motive enough to pay Michael Nakvinda $3,000 to kill his son in law with a promise of $10,000 more.
Mark Boening - Prosecutor: "We’re going to prove that there was an agreement and were going to prove there were overt acts in furtherance with that agreement."
After an hour long statement, defense attorney Mack Martin, says the man convicted of murder in this case, Michael Nakvinda, did have a discussion with Kirkpatrick about Gattuso. The admission comes In a 2009 police interview, An interview that is the "core" of prosecutor’s case. But Kirkpatrick says he never gave Nakvinda the "green Light" to kill Gattuso and no "agreement" was ever made..
Mack Martin – Defense Attorney: "Gene can't do it, he wont do it, I’m going to do it, he'll never know."
Martin told the jury, Michael Nakvinda's a killer who acted only for personal gain to profit from stealing Gattuso's Porshe.
Mack Martin: "That, we've got a guy going Maverick. A guy going rogue. A guy committing a crime on his own."
After opening statements the jury heard gruesome details from Julie Willert, a neighbor of Gattuso's and the woman who found his body.
Julie Willert – Found Gattuso’s Body: "I stopped, and saw his blood, and just left because I couldn't go any farther."
The detective who interviewed Kirkpatrick, Paul Lies, was the last to take the stand today.. The defense says Lies coerced Kirkpatrick into confessing. But lies told the court he used common police tactics and no coercion was involved.
The trial will continue tomorrow morning.